Roller coasters are not my favorite. After checking and rechecking my seat restraint, the ride cranks up, and I wonder why on earth anyone puts their body in such danger. Next, I assume my position: head down, eyes squeezed shut, hands clutching the restraint. Through every up, down, twist, and turn, I hang on for dear life.
Sometimes I move through my days with a silent lump in my throat. Even though I ache to personally connect with God through the ups and downs, I can struggle to know what to say or how to say it.
In today’s passages, we witness David’s full sweep of human emotion and experience, from highs of triumphal joy to lows of desperate doubt. Through these psalms we are given a model and an invitation to express the same.
Psalm 18 begins with praise. “I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1–2). David’s heart overflowed with joy, and he wasn’t bashful about gushing over the goodness of God. Psalm 18 resounds with words of gratefulness and confidence; it’s a celebration spoken aloud!
The tone shifts in Psalm 22 as celebration turns to desperation. “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far from my deliverance, and from my words of groaning?” (Psalm 22:1). David poured out anguish and dared to ask God why He would allow deep suffering.
He turned to the Lord with honest questions and doubts even in pain. In this we find seeds of hope and trust that God was there—even in the dark. “But you, LORD, don’t be far away. My strength, come quickly to help me” (v.19). Jesus, in history’s deadliest, darkest descent, repeated words from Psalm 22 on the cross. He, too, spoke to His Father through pain, trusting that He would resurrect hope from hopelessness, life from death.
We’re no strangers to times of darkness and confusion either. But God also meets us in the dark as He invites us to seek Him and honestly cry out.
David’s tone shifts again in Psalm 23 as he rested in God’s tender care. Even in the darkest valley, God was with him and protected him (Psalm 23:4). The mood becomes softer, more settled as he recalls God’s personal attention and provisions. “The LORD is my shepherd; I have what I need” (v.1). These words express shalom—the safety, wholeness, and flourishing we experience in intimacy with God.
Remember, God’s people sung these psalms aloud. God makes space for us to unload our hearts to Him honestly and share with others. Head up, eyes open. We don’t have to silently clench our fists to move through our days. And we’re not on this ride alone.